New Name, Same Work – Plus International

March 13, 2010

As someone following the ever expanding anti-human trafficking /slavery work in Tennessee, accomplished in the past year under the name Not For Sale, I want to share with you exciting new developments:

  • I have been asked to share the vision and what I’ve learned in Tennessee in an effort to mobilize 1,200 workers in over 60 nations to fight slavery and aid victims.
  • Our Tennessee work continues with the existing team of volunteers, no longer under the national Not For Sale Campaign, but as End Slavery TN - with International Teams.

 I began our Tennessee work in late 2008 and soon found dozens of volunteers standing with me to expose the growth of slavery in our state, warn the vulnerable, educate the influential and aid former victims. Their efforts have touched thousands, and our enthused army of volunteers will move the work forward. However, we have concluded that the national Not For Sale Campaign organization is no longer the best cover for this local, grassroots work.  

Maintaining Momentum in Tennessee

We will move forward with the work in Tennessee under the name End Slavery in Tennessee. While continuing to reach out to a wide range of participants, as Christians we believe recovering victims can only be wholly restored through the transforming touch of God and that our work is in vain without His empowering grace; this belief will be reflected in our work.  We will work under the covering of International Teams, under which our work will also expand. More about that…

Reaching Across All Borders

From 1987 to 1994, Bill and I served overseas with International Teams (ITeams), a Christian mission bringing people together to help the oppressed: The poor, the slave and the blind. We recently spoke with Scott Olson, president and CEO of the U.S. office. Scott wants to train and mobilize ITeams workers to seek out current and former slaves in need of healing and vulnerable people who are especially at-risk  of enslavement. He wants ITeams workers, worldwide, to set the captives free – physically, emotionally and spiritually, with a long term commitment to deep, effective initiatives.

Scott asked me to help in efforts to  train, equip and mobilize these 1,200 workers around the globe (and urban U.S.) who already have daily contact with vulnerable people, where human traffickers prey. Just as with the local work, I’ll serve as an unpaid volunteer. While I continue to work (alongside Bill) from our Tennessee home, some travel is required. Already, we plan to meet in May with a gathering of ITeams leaders in Turkey.

How To Stay Involved

For those who are already involved, just keep doing what you are doing! Volunteer groups continue to meet in Nashville and Franklin. I’ll continue to provide support and resources to groups in  Memphis and Knoxville.

You can help pay the expenses of the Tennessee work by sending a tax-deductible gift to International Teams, 411 W. River Road, Elgin, IL 60123 or on-line , putting“for Derri Smith’s work account” in the memo line or “designated for” field. This account will also pay travel and operational expenses in support of the international work. If you wish to specify your donation as “local” or “international,” just indicate this. We’ll make sure your funds are spent according to your wishes.

But this message is not about giving money as much as it is about  continuing  involvement to set captives free. Thank-you for reading our blogs, educating yourself and participating in our common cause. I welcome your comments, your questions and your prayers. Grateful, NFS card

 

      

In Her Own Words…Part 3

February 19, 2010

Karen:
 
Most people who are involved with the abolition of human trafficking and slavery know the horrors of this crime from books, movies, videos, on-line accounts, etc.  However, on one night in January, some of the volunteers with Not For Sale TN met these atrocities face to face.  We were invited to spend a few hours with a victim of human trafficking. We sat mesmerized for two hours listening to a beautiful, courageous young woman, whom I shall call “Carrie” and what have been the horrors of her life.
 
 She talked about her drug addicted mother and alcoholic father, and how at the early age of six, her mother told her to go into a bedroom with drug suppliers and “play doctor” with them.  “Carrie” had never been taught the values that most of us are brought up with, the value of one’s body and soul. She was a very bright, pretty girl and by the time she was twelve or thirteen, after having lived with other relatives in various places, been raped by her older brother, and abused by others, she became involved with a pimp and a life of prostitution.  Over the next five-six years she was forced to have sex with “more men than she could hope to remember.”  She was moved from city to city, was branded on her body and face, had both feet broken when thrown out of a moving car, had her teeth broken, and was beaten repeatedly for “not making her quota” or disobeying her pimp!
 
From the time she was sixteen, she tried to break away from this destructive life.  After being arrested and treated like a criminal, however, she would call her pimp to bail her out.  After all, who else would help her? Until one day, she encountered a woman from law enforcement who offered to help her escape.  In an agreement for testifying against several pimps, she was placed several times in foster homes or half-way houses where she was mistreated, eventually retreating to her pimp, because “at least he would feed her.” 
 
“Carrie” has, in her early twenties, finally escaped, but at a cost.  She has been placed here in TN where she knew no one, can never go back home, can never contact her family, and fears that she will be found and killed.  She is courageously trying to begin a new life as a college student and working to help other victims.  However, it is hard!  She feels alienated from most people because of her past, feels she may never have a normal relationship with a man and has difficulty with trust.  Despite everything, she is upbeat and hopeful.
 
I personally came away heartbroken for “Carrie” and all the “Carries” of this world.  Most of us will never know the realities of trafficking, can never fully understand the dynamics that land victims in this path, or fully comprehend the consequences.  We can, however, learn from these victims, share their stories, come to their assistance, continue to educate others, and do everything in our power to end human trafficking.  There are laws in place against this crime.  WE have to work to ensure these laws are enforced!  Thank you “Carrie” for sharing your story and for your courage to escape and help prosecute these criminals!

In Her Own Words…Continued…

February 17, 2010

April:
 
At the special meeting in January of 2010, many Not For Sale volunteers gathered to hear a devastating recounting of a sex trafficking victim’s testimony. Her story emphasized a common trafficking scenario that occurs here in the United States: young girls that grow up in physically and sexually abusive homes who are forced, coerced, and tricked into prostitution at a very young age (around 13 or 14 years old).
 
 In this particular victim’s case, she was told the message very early on in life that no one is trustworthy, especially your family. Introduced to her first sexual encounter at age 6, she continued to be abused by the help of her own mother. At 14, she left home only to experience continual sexual abuse from other members of her family, and finally found herself working the streets of prostitution. She traveled across state borders as she battled between being trafficked and trying to flee. Hoping to seek refuge with her father, she was turned out and sold back into the life she longed to leave. Throughout her time in bondage, she experienced continual sexual and physical abuse from her pimps, including daily rapes and branding on her body.
 
Her story was insightful about the lifestyle victims are forced to have. Many women would live in the same house or apartment, either going out at night to work the streets or waiting for a customer in their home. They suffered daily abuse and threats from their pimp, succumbed to living in fear. They are taken from everything they know and are cut off from society, feeling alone and without hope. This victim was finally able to flee and is doing her part in helping educate people about sex trafficking. It was a special opportunity for the NFSTN staff, one that continues to spur our efforts in the fight against slavery. 

To Be Continued…

In Her Own Words

February 15, 2010

Members of the Nashville Volunteer group had the rare privilege of hearing, in her own words, the horrific story of a rescued victim of human trafficking, and to be inspired by her courage. Below are the accounts and reactions of a few of those present that day:

———–

Beth: 

At first I was sure there was some mistake.

The young woman I’d just met was a vivacious, energetic college student.  She was very much like every other college student I knew, though perhaps even more passionate about life.

Could she really have been held as a slave for all of her teenage years, trafficked across multiple states, her body sold to the highest bidders, night after night?

I had the privilege – and heartbreak – of hearing her story personally, and now I have the responsibility to share her story with the hope of preventing other tragedies like this one…

****

Angel* had the misfortune of being born to a mom who was a drug addict and a dad who was an alcoholic.  She was raped at 13 by a family “friend” and later by her own brother.  When she was forced to leave home because she couldn’t pay the rent demanded by her father, she was enslaved by countless pimps, some “meaner” than others.  They at least kept her fed and clothed… as long as she followed their every command. 

Pimps became her “daddy”… sex a commodity.

She worked the “track” every night (every city has one), not able to rest until she’d earned the minimum required by her master.  Then she showered and was raped by her pimp (to make sure she wasn’t hiding any of “his” money).  If she didn’t toe the line (in any real or imagined way), she was brutally abused.  Among the physical assaults she described were: 

  • Her face and body were “branded” by one pimp leaving deep scars.
  • Her jaw and front teeth were broken from repeated kicking by pointed boots
  • She was beaten until she nearly bled to death, miscarrying her baby
  • Unspeakable things were done to her with a hairbrush.

And, perhaps saddest of all, some of her girlfriends, trapped in this hell on earth with her, just disappeared without notice, never to be seen or heard from again.  Angel knows what happened to them, though she doesn’t want to think about it. But for the grace of God, she too may have ended up in a shallow grave.

Now in her early twenties, Angel has a passion to help others.  She’s in college, majoring in social work.  And she’s pursuing speaking opportunities, as painful as it is to relive her past.  In addition to speaking to our Not For Sale community activist group, she’s also spoken to groups of young people, warning them about how easy it is to become trapped in this vicious underground world where one human being “owns” another.

Angel is out to save other girls from the nightmare she’s endured.

* Angel is not her real name. 

…To Be Continued

Part 8

February 12, 2010

On January 28, 2010, a defendant was sentenced in United States v. Cooney in the Eastern District of Arkansas to 90 months’ imprisonment pursuant to his guilty plea on one count of sex trafficking.  His co-defendant, who pled guilty on October 23, 2009, in connection with the sex trafficking scheme that targeted U.S. citizen victims, is awaiting sentencing
 
Each of these developments is the result of sustained, collaborative efforts on the part of multiple law enforcement agencies, NGO’s and victim service providers.  Collaboration is key to ending slavery!
 
To Freedom for All-
Derri

Part 7

February 11, 2010

On February 3, 2010, defendant Miguel Angel Rugerio was sentenced in federal district court in Atlanta, Georgia, to sixty months in prison for his role in a sex trafficking conspiracy.   He pled guilty to the offense on October 29, 2009.  The defendant and his co-conspirators were charged in United States v. Rugerio with engaging in a scheme to lure young, vulnerable victims from Mexico on promises of a better life, and then to use threats, assaults, and psychological coercion to compel the victims into prostitution for the defendants’ profit.

Part 6

February 10, 2010

On October 19, 2009, a defendant was sentenced in United States v. Pelayo, in the Central District of California, to 57 months in prison following her conviction for luring Filipino victims into the United States to work in the defendant’s elder care facilities, then compelling their continued service by confiscating their passports, isolating them, working them around the clock for meager pay, demanding repayment of smuggling debts, and threatening to report them to authorities if they attempted to escape.  The defendant was also ordered to pay the victims over $167,000 in restitution.

Part 5

February 9, 2010

On October 22, 2009, a defendant was convicted in the District of New Jersey on all twenty-two counts, following a four-week trial, for holding young West African victims, including minor girls as young as ten years old, in forced labor in hair-braiding salons in Newark and East Orange, New Jersey.  The defendant and her associates, who had previously pled guilty in connection with the scheme, used threats, violence, confiscation of the victims’ identification documents, isolation, restricted communications, and psychological manipulation–including voodoo curses–to intimidate and control the young victims, compelling them to work long hours, seven days a week, and turn over the proceeds to the defendants.  The defendant in that case, United States v. Afolabi, is awaiting sentencing.

Part 4

February 8, 2010

On January 13, 2010, in United States v. Sou, two defendants entered guilty pleas in the district of Hawaii to charges of forced labor conspiracy, arising from their conspiracy to compel 44 Thai agricultural workers into service at the defendants’ family farm, using a scheme of debts, restraint, and threats of serious harm to intimidate the workers and place them in fear of attempting to leave.

Part 3

February 7, 2010

On December 17, 2009, a federal grand jury in Anchorage, Alaska indicted four co-defendants in United States v. Mujahid, on sex trafficking and related charges arising from a criminal enterprise that compelled U.S. citizen victims, both adults and minors, into prostitution, using threats, physical assaults, and sexual assaults to control the victims if they disobeyed or attempted to leave, and requiring the victims to turn over the proceeds to the defendants.


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